Brendan Vacations Offers Immersive and Culturally Enriching Scotland Tours Filled with History, Heritage, and Countless Scenic Wonders
Scotland is a popular destination for leisure group travelers, offering an enticing combination of ancient castles to tour, spectacular landscapes, and cultural heritage. Scotland’s iconic golf courses and exceptional spirits are also significant draws for vacationers.
According to Phocuswright, experiences are the central reason for leisure travel. For travelers seeking memorable experiences and local connections in Scotland, Brendan Vacations offers a variety of expertly crafted tours in Scotland designed to showcase the country’s historic past, rich cultural traditions, and hidden treasures.
Brendan Vacations’ sole focus is travel in Scotland and Ireland. The company offers a variety of travel styles for group travel planners, from fully-guided coach tour vacations to customizable private group chauffeur trips. During its 50 years of operations, Brendan Vacations has developed long-standing relationships with its trusted Scotland suppliers and partners. The company’s trip planners combine their years of extensive experience with deep insider knowledge to create memorable itineraries and personally customized vacations in Scotland. These include specialty itineraries, such as those with an emphasis on Scotland’s famed golf courses, renowned spirits, or notable film locations in the award-winning Outlander television series.
Each day brings new adventures and exceptional experiences on Brendan Vacations Scotland tours. While the company’s Scotland itineraries include well-known sites like Edinburgh Castle and Loch Lomond, Brendan’s travel planners also incorporate activities that enable vacationers to see these iconic places in a unique way. These might include walking tours with locals, special culinary explorations, and visits to hidden gems. Brendan Vacations artfully combines these immersive experiences with Scotland’s fascinating history and stunning scenery, weaving a rich tapestry that provides lasting memories and connects guests with an authentic sense of place.
Exploring Edinburgh’s Multi-Faceted Allure on Scotland Tours
Our 11-day tour of Scotland started in Edinburgh, allowing us to spend plenty of time exploring Scotland’s capital city. The Market Street Hotel provided a perfect home base for sightseeing in the city’s Old Town and New Town areas. We took an Edinburgh City Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Tour to get our bearings and see many of the city’s attractions. The excursion provided convenient transportation to numerous sights, including the historic Holyrood Palace.
Tours with local guides were some of our most memorable experiences in Edinburgh. On our walking tour of the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle, our superb local guide took us to hidden gems along the well-traveled route and took us back in time through her stories. Exploring Edinburgh Castle with our guide was one of the highlights of our Scotland tour, and skipping the lines was an added plus. On another of our tours in Scotland, we explored Edinburgh’s vibrant culinary scene with a local guide who escorted us to pre-reserved tables at superb venues throughout the city. The regionally-produced Scottish cuisines and spirits we sampled were some of the best of our trip.
Whisky is Scotland’s national drink, and I learned more about the country’s famed spirits at distilleries and venues on our journey. Edinburgh’s educational and entertaining Johnnie Walker Journey of Flavour Experience proved to be a great place to start. Through sessions and tastings led by an expert guide, I discovered Scotch whisky’s many flavors and the finely-honed craft involved in producing these celebrated libations.
Strolling Through History In Ancient Castles And St Andrews
While our time in Edinburgh was terrific, we were excited to head on to St Andrews – the “home of golf.” St Andrews is a bucket-list destination for golfers, and it’s a top spot for history lovers as well. On a superb walking tour of St Andrews Links’ iconic Old Course, our guide brought the stories and legends of these fabled fairways to life.
Centuries-old St Andrews was a major pilgrimage destination, and the town is also home to Scotland’s oldest university. We took a walking tour of St Andrews with a knowledgeable local guide, strolling through history as we visited the University of St Andrews, the ruins of St Andrews Castle and St Andrews Cathedral, and other important sites. We also hiked along lovely West Sands Beach, which was the setting for the opening scenes in Chariots of Fire. Rufflets St Andrews, an idyllic family-owned country house hotel, provided a restful retreat on our journey.
Experiencing tours of Scotland’s magnificent castles was high on our list, and our itinerary featured a number of these historic gems. As fans of the popular Outlander drama series, we enjoyed taking a self-guided tour of 14th-century Doune Castle, which served as the filming location for the show’s Castle Leoch episodes. Legendary Stirling Castle was once home to Scotland’s kings and queens, and it’s been beautifully restored. We spent hours touring this magnificent castle, walking the walls, and viewing its many outstanding exhibits. Later that day, we felt like royalty staying at the grand Atholl Palace Hotel, a baronial castle-style property set in the quaint town of Pitlochry.
Scotland Tours Showcase The Scottish Highlands
Our Brendan Vacations itinerary included a number of immersive activities and adventures in the Scottish Highlands, and many of these were our favorite Scotland tour experiences. We took an exciting multi-hour Highland mountain safari with an expert guide, who took us from the valley floor high into the misty ridges for a delicious picnic lunch and wilderness hike. The scenery was awe-inspiring, and we spotted herds of red deer, soaring golden eagles, and hillsides filled with blooming heather along the way. On another day, we visited the windswept moors of Culloden Battlefield and learned about the final stand of the Jacobite Rising.
Culturally rich Inverness served as our home base for several nights while exploring various areas around the Scottish Highlands. Our extensive tour of Scotland’s enchanting Isle of Skye was one of the most memorable excursions of our trip. Vacationers could easily spend several days in this scenic wonderland filled with dazzling waterfalls, breathtaking vistas, jagged peaks, dramatic cliffs, and charming seaside houses painted in pastel hues. Eilean Donan Castle is equally picturesque, and we stopped there twice on our Isle of Skye tour. This stunning gem looks like something straight out of a fairy tale, and it’s said to be one of the world’s most photographed castles. We also paused along the banks of Loch Ness to view the ruins of Urquhart Castle while keeping an eye out for Nessie – the loch’s famous monster.
Some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery can be seen along the route we took from Inverness to Loch Lomond. Highlights include Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain, and the broodingly beautiful mountains of Glencoe. We stopped for a moment there to marvel at the dramatic landscapes and paid quiet tribute to the Clan MacDonald members who lost their lives there in the tragic 1692 massacre. Then it was on to Loch Lomond, where we took a scenic cruise and cycled along the loch’s bonnie banks.
Discovering Glasgow’s Many Attractions
Glasgow is filled with impressive cultural attractions, and we looked onward to spending time there on our Scotland trip. The vibrant city is home to some of Scotland’s best museums and art galleries, including the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery. Our Glasgow Hop On, Hop Off Bus Tour gave us an excellent overview of the city and provided easy transportation to many major sites.
I was most surprised by the city’s beautiful architecture and the amazing urban street art throughout Glasgow’s city center. Our Brendan Vacations itinerary included an excellent urban art-focused walking tour along Glasgow’s City Centre Mural Trail. Our expert local guide led us to some of her favorite murals by various artists, including Rogue-One, Smug, Art Pistol, and Ejek. The murals are stunning, and we enjoyed learning about the artists involved in each of the colorful installations.
Scotland Tours: Creating Authentic Experiences And Exceeding Expectations
Today’s travelers want to connect with the places they visit in a meaningful way. Brendan Vacations’ Scotland tours offer the kinds of enriching experiences leisure group travelers crave. The company’s expert team is able to create customized itineraries tailored to the interests of all types of leisure groups, using a variety of available travel styles to provide the right fit.
While Scotland’s castles and other attractions were the highlights we looked forward to before the trip, it was the activities that involved connecting with locals that we enjoyed most. For instance, the 84-mile ride on the world-famous Jacobite Steam Train was a bucket-list journey for us. Featured as the ‘Hogwarts Express’ in Harry Potter films, the scenic train trip has been called one of the world’s “greatest railway journeys.” While we loved the entire trip – including crossing the iconic Glenfinnan viaduct, one of the main high points turned out to be our in-depth conversations with locals. Interestingly enough, it’s the people we met and the landscapes we saw along the way that have stayed in our minds long after our Scotland tour was over. Our trip also included a few “wow” moments, such as an elaborate picnic on our cycling excursion along the shores of Loch Lomond.
Brendan Vacations’ long-lasting relationships with its Scottish suppliers resulted in travel experiences that exceeded our expectations. This was particularly true with some of our lodging stays. The culinary experiences at Ness Walk Hotel in Inverness were exceptional, and the staff went out of their way to provide personalized, attentive service. The property caters to leisure groups, and we spoke with numerous guests who were thrilled with their experience. Cameron House on Loch Lomond also provided an extraordinarily memorable stay, offering superb cuisine, luxurious accommodations, and a wide variety of activities and adventures.
It was a pleasure working with Brendan Vacations’ travel specialists to custom-build our ideal Scotland itinerary with a blend of appealing destinations, experiences, and accommodations. The company’s mantra is “Taking You Personally,” and it’s an excellent description of our overall experience.
It’s rare for me to come away from a trip saying, “I wouldn’t change a thing.” As we toasted to our Scotland travels at the stunning Marine North Berwick hotel on the final evening of our tour, those were the words I used, to sum up our journey. For our interests and the amount of time we had available in Scotland, it was the perfect trip.
By Nancy Schretter
Lead Photo: Eilean Donan Castle (Photo Credit: Nancy Schretter)
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